Webb Simpson put himself in position for a green jacket yesterday at the 2019 Masters, notching an 8-under par 64 to find himself just 4 strokes off leader Francesco Molinari of Italy. His scintillating back-9 included an eagle on hole No. 13.
At his side is Paul Tesori, a 15-year member of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies. A former player at the University of Florida per his APTC page, he qualified for the PGA Tour in 1996 before taking up caddying full-time in the 2000s.
Here’s what you need to know about the 46-year old.
1. He Previously Caddied for Vijay Singh & Memorably Bickered with Him at the 2001 PGA Championship
According to his APTC page, Tesori previously worked for Vijay Singh, Jerry Kelly and Sean O’Hair before landing with Simpson. His relationship with Singh is particularly memorable since the 56-year old from Fiji is notoriously prickly.
They famously got into a shouting match at the 2001 Players Championship. In an interview with Golf Digest, Tesori described the exchange like a politician.
“Hopefully, you get a guy that you can kind of needle back at the same time, which I have now,” Tesori said. “But most of the time, it’s going to be a one-way needle street.”
While he appreciated the pay, as Singh was winning enough to be the No. 1 golfer in the world at the time, Tesori felt a lot of strain in his life working for Singh.
“It was such a hard job,” he said to the Back of the Range Golf Podcast. “He was a friend of mine, but it was an extremely hard job. I had 11 days offs in 2001 out of 365 and 13 days off in ’02. For me, I lost a marriage, I lost family…because life became work.”
Tesori moved onto Simpson in 2011.
2. Both Simpson and Tesori Are Men of Christian Faith
At 26 years old and just a few years removed from starring at Wake Forest, Webb Simpson took home the U.S. Open title at Olympic Club in San Francisco. In a writeup for the win, ESPN’s Farrell Evans describes how Tesori and Simpson share Christian faiths, and how that helped calm Webb late in his major victory.
Simpson is a man of deep faith, a faith he shares with Tesori. The 26-year-old former Wake Forest star had scripture written on every page of his Olympic yardage book.
“Webb wanted to have the scripture strong in his mind and heart on the golf course,” Tesori said.
In the 17th fairway on Sunday, perhaps in an effort to avoid losing site of his larger life purpose, he tried to put some real perspective on things.
“It doesn’t matter if we win 15 tournaments and 15 money lists,” Simpson told his caddie. “In 30 years, it’s not going to matter because we’re going to heaven anyway.”
It remains his only major victory to date, but he has snagged 5 PGA Tour wins over the last decade. In addition to bible scriptures in scorecards, Tesori gave a speech in 2014 entitled “Jesus as Your Personal Caddy.”
3. Tesori Yelled at a Heckler at the 2018 Dell Technologies Championship
Simpson and Tesori were having a tough third round at the 2018 Dell Technologies Championship, entering the afternoon with a solo lead but mucking that up with 3 front-nine bogeys. A pair of doubles didn’t help, either.
The frustration boiled over for Tesori when a spectator started heckling Simpson, sarcastically telling him about what a “great day” he was having. After Simpson hit his approach shot on the final hole, Tesori confronted the heckler, who was carrying a Budweiser.
NBC TV analyst Roger Maltbie reported that the heckler was a problem for several golfers that day. Tesori called for a police officer to help eject the man (dressed in an orange polo), which earned a round of applause from the crowd, as well as many on social media.
Simpson finished the tournament No. 49 at 3-under par.
4. Tesori Admits That He Cost Simpson $5 Million for Tinkering With The Wrong Part of His Game
After Simpson took home the 2018 Players Championship, Tesori told reporters that the journey to that success had a hefty cost. The caddy suggested that Simpson work on his ball-striking, when he should have addressed his putting. Per Golf Digest:
“We went in a year early, which was my call, and that cost us at least $5 million because the next year I think he finished third in ball-striking and only made about $1.5 million,” Tesori said on this week’s Golf Digest Podcast. “We went in and looked at his average putting throughout his career and if he had an average putting year he would have been second on the Ryder Cup list, he would have won a couple of tournaments and he would have made about $6 million.
Simpson somewhat made up for the “lost” cash, winning just under $2 million for his victory at TPC Sawgrass. In his career, Simpson has earned over $31 million.
5. Tesori has a Wife, Michelle, & A Son, Isaiah, Who Has Down Syndrome
Paul didn’t attend the 2014 Hyundai Championships with Webb, instead heading to Maui to witness the birth of his son Isaiah, their 2nd child and first son. Both Tesori and his wife Michelle came to the realization that Isaiah was born with complications.
Tim Rosaforte, from Golf Channel and Golf World, reported that Isaiah was still in the NICU with a virus and a possibility of Down’s Syndrome. While Isaiah is alive and healthy right now, he does live with the condition.
During the difficult childbirth, one of the things that helped Paul and Michelle through the trouble was seeing Simpson in contention at Hyundai. Webb finished in a tie for 3rd, but considered withdrawing to support the Tesori’s.
After Sunday’s third round, an emotional Simpson told a TV broadcaster that he had considered withdrawing and flying home to be with Paul and Michelle.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, no.’ I don’t want him to feel like that because there’s nothing he can do,” Paul said. “Just pray for me, talk to me at night and that’s all you can do.”
Tesori continued in a conversation with PGATour.com:
“It helped me a lot because everybody praying, everybody calling, you’re so consumed with being in the NICU unit the whole time reading up on Down syndrome, reading up on the brain swelling and reading up on all these different things,” Paul said. “… I had a DVR, so I immediately said, ‘Honey, they are in the lead.’ We turned it on and got so fired up and excited, it was a fresh breath of air. We were excited to have something positive and radiant to really root for.”
Isaiah’s survival has led to the creation of the Tesori Family Foundation, which raises money for immediate medical needs for children.
The experience has made Simpson and Tesori one of the closest player-caddy relationships on the Tour.